Migraine Trigger Alert! High Levels of Nitrates in Green Leafy Veggies

When people with migraines think about foods to avoid, green leafy vegetables aren’t usually on their radar as a migraine trigger.

After all, veggies and especially greens are important foods that you’ve gotta love. They’re packed full of blood-building and cleansing nutrients and exemplify all that is healthful and wholesome.  Most people with migraines and food sensitivities see vegetables as one of the safest food groups to eat from.  Spinach is occasionally recognized as a migraine trigger but usually the explanation given is that it contains high levels of oxalates or triggers histamine.  Both of these explanations may be true, but nitrates are usually not described as a migraine trigger when it comes to eating spinach.

The original SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol addressed the issue of nitrates – though not explicitly – by suggesting that you avoid nitrate rich foods such as lunch meats and cured meats along with most other aged and fermented foods.  What is news to us is that many fresh vegetables also contain significant amounts of nitrates – some naturally-occuring, some a result of how the plants are fertilized, and some a result of the time of year of harvest, growing conditions, and how the food is prepared.

The natural human tendency is to think that when something is good for you (ie, vegetables), more is even better for you. So our enthusiasm for taking responsibility for our health may result in us getting really amped about the practice of drinking fresh green smoothies every morning (for example)!   Unfortunately, if you get overzealous with them, raw leafy greens high in nitrates eaten in excess can be a migraine trigger, for reasons explained below.

Before moving forward, I want to point out, however, that my migraines went away before I knew about this connection and while eating nitrate-rich veggies.  I didn’t drink many green smoothies though.  My impression is that drinking green smoothies high in nitrates once in awhile should not pose too much of a problem for people who only get migraines occasionally.  But for those who have almost constant migraines, this nitrate issue may be a game-changer and reducing their consumption may improve symptoms and quality of life.  So as you read this, think of this info in light of how severe your migraines are before deciding to change how you eat greens.

The new research into nitrates and migraines

Recently there’s been some new research coming out showing that people with migraine headaches have more nitrate-reducing bacteria in their mouths and nitrate-producing bacteria in their guts.  This is important information, because:

“Nitrates, such as cardiac therapeutics and food additives, are common headache triggers, with nitric oxide playing an important role. Facultative anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity may contribute migraine-triggering levels of nitric oxide through the salivary nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Using high-throughput sequencing technologies, we detected observable and significantly higher abundances of nitrate, nitrite, and nitric oxide reductase genes in migraineurs versus nonmigraineurs in samples collected from the oral cavity and a slight but significant difference in fecal samples.” (Source)

While higher levels of nitric oxide (and raw, green, leafy veggies) may be a good thing for people with hypertension and high blood pressure, it’s not sp great for those of us with hypotension and low blood pressure.  Nitrates contribute to vasodilation and low blood pressure, and when our blood pressure is low (as most of ours are who are prone to migraines), there is insufficient blood and therefore oxygen getting to the head (as well as impingement on nearby cranial nerves). If you’d like to learn more about this, read my blog post here, under the section “Why do so many people with migraine headaches have dilated blood vessels, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances?”

I know this isn’t something you really wanted to hear.

The last thing you need is to start being afraid of yet one more food group. In addition to alcohol, cheese, chocolate, and fermented and aged foods and supplements, you may (or may not be) already aware that you’re probably also to some degree triggered by glutamates, histamine, tyramines, benzoates, oxalates, and/or salycilates.  Now also nitrates!?!?  This news is hard to be receptive to, I realize.

The only consolation I have to offer is that by being educated about the properties of foods, we can actually be less fearful and more empowered in how we eat.  We don’t have to avoid these foods entirely (that would be impossible!), but by making discerning decisions about which foods we eat and how we prepare them, we can stop overloading our system with them.  The even better news is that once your gut flora starts to get rebalanced with help from the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol, your body just won’t get overloaded quite so easily, and you’ll be more resilient.

I’d imagine that even among people who are prone to migraines, there is still a diversity in their gut (and oral cavity) microbiome and these differences among us may explain our different levels of food sensitivities and capacities to handle glutamates, histamine, tyramines, benzoates, oxalates, and/or salycilates. There may be differences in our individual capacities to handle nitrates as well, so please test these foods out on yourself to gauge your own sensitivity levels.  What does seem clear is that nitrates ultimately reduce blood pressure, and this is generally undesirable in those with migraines.

So what are the veggies highest in nitrates?

That’s not a straightforward question to answer, because of the variability in factors that contribute to nitrate content (soil, plant type, growing conditions, fertilizers, time of year harvested, how old the plant is, part of the plant consumed, etc).  I’d love to be able to provide you with a very neat list outlining fixed nitrate levels for each vegetable, but doing so would be deceptive. In addition to the factors just described, we probably each have diverse nitrate reducing gut and mouth microbe communities, meaning nitrate levels as a migraine trigger may vary in intensity for each of us as individuals.

So let’s just simplify this.

Generally it appears that there is agreement that spinach, kale, arugula, chard, cilantro, and beet greens are highest in nitrates.  These foods doin’t have to be avoided – but will be better for you to eat cooked.  Cabbage, celery, bok choy, romaine, and radishes seem to be generally in the medium range of nitrate levels.  Cabbage and bok choy are usually cooked anyway, but radishes should still be good for you in moderation because unlike the more leafy green veggies high in nitrates, radishes contain prebiotic fibers and other properties beneficial to people with migraines (which is why they remain an optional but important part of the SimplWell Protocol).  According to some lists, potatoes and carrots are on the lower end of the nitrate spectrum (and also contain prebiotics, so we want to eat them raw).  Cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, and mesclun greens are also in the low to medium range.

Fruits also contain nitrates, but nowhere near the amounts that green leafy veggies do.  It’s my personal conclusion right now that its not important to stop eating any fruits, especially since fructose breaks down into a variety of waste products, one of which is uric acid. Uric acid drives up your blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide in your blood vessels.  We want to increase our blood pressure to get more blood to the head (again, since people with migraines usually have low blood pressure).  Of course, always consider this information in light of what  you already know about your own particular food sensitivities.

Here’s a quick primer on how to minimize nitrate load from greens in your diet:

  1. Always choose organic greens.  Organic greens generally have fewer nitrates than conventionally-raised greens (which are more likely to to be a migraine trigger).
  2. Greens harvested during the spring and summer have lower nitrate levels than those harvested in the fall and winter.  Eating locally in season is one way to reduce nitrate levels.
  3. Cooking greens significantly lowers nitrate content, so eating cooked rather than fresh veggies will be less of a trigger, especially for the greens that are still healthful, like kale and spinach, but are very high in nitrates when fresh.
  4. Vegetables lower in nitrates should be chosen when you are eating fresh vegetables in the form of salads or green smoothies.  Mesclun greens, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers are lower in nitrates, but still contain nitrates.

A reminder: this info on nitrates is preliminary.

The research on higher nitrate-reducing bacteria in the mouths of those with migraines, and higher levels of nitrate-producing bacteria in their colons, just came out a few weeks ago. The implications of this research has not been tested out in large numbers of people with migraines to see how reducing nitrate-rich veggies and greens will impact their migraines.  But the mechanisms for how and why nitrates would affect those of us with migraines (and attendant low blood pressure) is pretty clear.

It just so happens that recently, when I experienced an unusual week of headaches and cloudy brain fog, I had been choosing to drink a lot of green drinks (normally I just rely on my carrot potato juice).  I had attributed my headaches to hormonal changes in my pregnancy, and low blood pressure from weather changes.  But then I found this research on nitrates. It’s almost as though the universe decided to perfectly time my green drink experiment with the releasing of this information so that I would make the connection.  So I stopped drinking the green drinks, and my headaches went away.  I’ve briefly tested this again and noticed fresh salads high in nitrates seem to give me headache symptoms.  Because my gut flora are more balanced from the prebiotics and improved electrolyte balance, high-nitrate greens aren’t a migraine trigger for me – but they do seem to give me a headache and other milder symptoms that would otherwise turn into one without implementation of the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

Scientific Research + Experiental Learning + Sharing Insight = Folk Medicine

The validity of this insight as it pertains to those who are prone to migraines should be tested more, and we have other members in our SimplyWell Protocol Community currently testing out this insight.  So if you normally drink a lot of green drinks, and decide to stop after reading this, please let me know what you find out.  You’ll be contributing to Folk Medicine knowledge by sharing your anecdotal evidence.  The combination of insights and explanations gleaned from scientific research which is then applied through personal experimentation – followed by the sharing of your observations with those who are also asking the same questions – is the best of both worlds.

Important! The goal is NEVER to be more afraid of food.

The goal is to be educated enough about food and how it affects us that we can actually feel well and function while we do the important work of healing the underlying imbalances that are causing the food sensitivity in the first place.  The body knows how to heal if we support it properly, and we can do so through better understanding of the properties of foods including this new information on nitrate migraine triggers and how to eat veggies in a way that won’t overload us or lower our blood pressure to much.

Check out my delicious recipe for a low-nitrate green drink made with romaine, cucumber, mint, and pear!

.

5 Ways to Get Migraine Relief without Drugs – Quick!

Back in the day, when I lived with the weekly beast of migraine headaches gnawing at my skull or looming nearby, I experimented with a wide variety of ways to get migraine relief without drugs.  When I felt one coming on, I’d frantically start going through my arsenal of tricks, and usually ended up succeeding one way or another in keeping it at bay or dissipating it entirely.  I refused to take pharmaceutical pain or migraine meds – because I understood that my migraines were actually caused by pharmaceuticals, especially antibiotics, that threw off my gut flora balance.  I’m not sure that my strength to stay away from pain meds would have persisted had I not finally discovered the plant-based solution to migraine headaches that I now call The SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

Some of the ways I’ve succeeded in getting rid of migraines were not only not replicable at all, but highly esoteric (visualizing sacred geometry – specifically, the torus symbol below).  Other attempts were successful but extremely hard to pull off while in so much pain (such as giving myself a craniosacral therapy treatment, or making love with a splitting headache, eventhough they worked!).

torusSo I want to share with you the five most common ways that I consistently managed to stave off or get rid of a migraine.  Obviously, these techniques are the most effective when applied the soonest you feel a migraine coming on.  However if you are like I was and constantly have some kind of a headache more or less all the time, there’s the tendency to hope that early signs of a migraine will just resolve themselves with a little sleep or rest.  Better to be proactive before things ramp up too much.

I offer these tips as a temporary measure for those of you who have not managed to get your dietary triggers figured out or who have not done the SimplyWell Protocol for long enough to see results yet.

In order to understand why the approaches below can often work to get rid of a migraine, we need to understand what migraine is and why it manifests.  My belief is that the majority of migraines result from 1) compromised kidneys which affects blood pressure and electrolyte balance, 2) imbalanced gut flora with a predominance of histamine and nitrate producing flora, which makes eating foods high in these substances overwhelming and activates inflammation in the gut and brain, and 3) congested lymph, especially in the neck area.  There are of course other factors involved, such as liver health, thyroid health, and issues with nutritional absorption all of which also affect migraines, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll just focus on these main points.  I’ve listed the most effective solutions here first.

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – and Raise Your Blood Pressure

Yes, we’ve all heard this one before.  What some of us haven’t heard is that drinking water doesn’t make your cells hydrated if your electrolyte balance is off.  The cells need an optimal ratio of potassium to sodium in order for the potassium/sodium channels to work (as well as magnesium and calcium, but potassium and sodium are the most important for actually getting rid of a migraine). Therefore, have a DIY electrolyte powder on hand that you can drink when you feel a migraine coming on.  Buying pre-formulated electrolyte powders won’t work as wel because most of them are formulated for athletes who lose a lot of sodium or aren’t directly formulated for migraineurs.

Click here for a DIY Electrolyte Drink Recipe!

So, in order to be hydrated you need both electrolytes and water.  Water contains oxygen but also increases blood volume, which is important because increased blood volume will mean there will be more blood to permeate all the extremities as well as the head even in the midst of low blood pressure. After you’ve taken 1 T of the elecrolyte mixture in water, drink a minimum of 3 pints of fresh water to raise your blood volume.Low blood pressure and dilated blood vessels will mean that less blood and oxygen will get to the head, so we need to constrict the blood vessels and raise the blood pressure (in addition to raising blood volume).  Getting sufficient sodium will also help to raise blood pressure (in addition to hydrating the cells), while potassium will help to relax tense muscles (in addition to hydrating the cells).

2. Move Your Lymph

People with migraines often have congested lymph, especially in the head and neck area.  Contrary to popular belief, muscular contraction during exercise is not what moves lymph along.  It’s actually deep diaphragmatic breathing (which can also occurs during exercise).In order to move congested lymph from your head, first massage under the jaw.  Use deep firm pressure under the lip of the jaw bone moving medially inwards to outwards towards your sternocleidomastoid and jaw (putting pressure directly on the submental and submaxillary glands).  Next, massage your cervical glands by gripping your sternocleidomastoid muscle in a pincer grip from top to bottom.  Here is a video demonstrating manual lymph drainage.

face-and-neck-lymph-nodes-5514bd716d393Once you have the muscular tissues and lymph moving in your neck and head, do a few deep breathing exercises, making sure to emphasize a complete and full EXHALE.  Get all the stagnant air out of the lungs.  This is just as important as a deep inhale.After this, go outside for a vigorous run, ideally up a steep hill or up a flight of stairs.  Do this for at least 20 minutes.  The exercise will increase blood flow to the brain, move stagnant lymph, and oxygenate your entire body.  The headache should subside, especially if you have also taken electrolytes prior to running.  It can be hard to push yourself during a migraine, but it’s well worth it.  If you don’t have stairs or a steep hill, do jumping jacks or any kind of vigorous movement that gets the heart pumping hard and the diaphragm moving vigorously for 20 minutes.  Dancing works too!

3. Calm Your Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve acts as the communication link between the gut and the head.  When the gut is inflamed, the vagus nerve sends alarm signals to the brain.  There are simple ways to calm down the vagus nerve.  You can take an alternating hot/cold shower.  The heat will increase blood flow, and the cold will constrict blood vessels, encourage deep inhalation, and calm the vagus nerve.  Get the water as cold as you can, and make sure you are proportionally staying under the cold water at least twice as long as the hot water.  Make sure you get the cold water on your head, face, back and torso.  Definately end with cold water, not hot.  (In general, avoid soaking in hot water while you have a migraine, as this dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure).If you cannot take a shower, you can calm your vagus nerve by splashing cold water repeatedly on your face (a minimum of ten times).  This may not get rid of a migraine by itself, but it can really help especially in conjunction with other approaches outlined here.For more ideas on how to calm your vagus nerve, read this article here.

4. Constrict Your Cranial Blood Vessels

When vertebral arteries and blood vessels are engorged (dilated) and blood pressure is low, blood does not get to the head and the blood vessels impinge on the plexus of cranial nerves leading into the head from the neck.  Therefore, constricting these blood vessels is an important way to get rid of a migraine. The cold shower should help with this, but in addition, you can place an ice pack or pack of frozen peas on the base of your skull, thereby creating more space for the cranial nerves going into the skull at the foramen magnum.In addition to the ice pack, you can constrict your blood vessels by drinking a frozen drink (getting a “brain freeze” can help constrict the blood vessels by cooling the back of the mouth).  Some people find more success using a frozen coffee drink, since caffeine also constricts blood vessels.  You can also drink chilled peppermint tea (peppermint is a vasoconstrictor).  This alone is not likely to get rid of a migraine but may help to tip you away from it when used in conjunction with other methods outlined here.58qv-2804

Another way to constrict your blood vessels is to use a blend of hypertensive essential oils. You’ve probably noticed that it’s not just synthetic fragrances that are a horrible trigger when you have headache and migraine symptoms – some essential oils (especially the more floral and low-note oils like jasmine and patchouli) can wreak havoc on your fragile brain too.  That’s because those and many other oils are hypotensive (ie, vasodilating) oils. Therefore, migraineurs may want to avoid geranium, jasmine, marjoram, rose, valerian, lemon, melissa, neroli, nutmeg, vetivert, and ylang ylang essential oils, especially when they are symptomatic – and instead opt for hypertensive oils.

To learn more about hypertensive, vasoconstrictive essential oils, head on over to my blog post on that topic, where I share with you my recipe for a vasoconstrictive/hypertensive essential oil blend.  The oils I’ve chosen to use in my own SimplyWell Migraine, Headache, & Brain Fog Support Blend are only a few of the vasoconstrictive essential oils out there. All of the oils used in this blend are also great for digestive issues.  No surprises there, since most migraines are digestive migraines!

5. Remove Fermentation & Histamine From the Colon with an Enema

This is a last resort, but it has worked for me many times.  It is not an optimal solution, because we don’t really know how enemas affect the gut flora.  However, some people may find it to be a solution preferable to taking a pharmaceutical medication (which also negatively affect gut flora).  Coffee enemas tend to be the most effective, perhaps because they help to stimulate the hepatic nerve of the liver and thereby reduce liver congestion (which is also implicated in migraine headaches).Most importantly, an enema will help to remove food that has reached the colon that is triggering inflammation, perhaps because this food has not been sufficiently broken down through DAO (diamine oxidase). Many people with migraines have low DAO levels, and DAO receptor sites on cells are also affected by electrolyte balance, so the electrolyte mixture above will help with that as well.When food which has not been properly broken down by DAO reaches the colon, it starts to feed unfriendly bacteria which produce histamine, thus adding to your histamine load.  Removing this histamine burden through an enema can often make a migraine go away.While I won’t be going into a tutorial on how to do an enema here, it’s important to emphasize that the water or coffee be lukewarm and not hot, and that the water be purified.  A full quart bag is usually needed to clean out the colon, and multiple enemas may be necessary.

I Hope These Tips Are Beneficial to You!

None of these ideas are long-term solutions, they are merely singular ways that I’ve found to consistently get rid of migraines.  The important point is to get to the root of your migraine problems by avoiding trigger foods and healing your gut, as outlined in the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.  Luckily, we do have very powerful plant food allies that can help us so powerfully that over time, we will no longer need to resort to any of the techniques above to get rid of a migraine.

Please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat migraines, or act as a replacement for medical care from a medical professional.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. [/author_info] [/author]

Resuscitating Folk Medicine

Folk Medicine

My Accidental Discovery of Folk Medicine

In the first few months after I discovered what I am now calling the Simplywell Protocol, I would catch myself noticing that something felt decidedly weird: my head felt clear, my energy levels were normal, I could finally fall asleep at night, and the migraines that had been torturing me literally for years due to medications after c-section were now suddenly and completely gone.  What felt strange to me was feeling normal.  It had been that long since I had known what it was like to go through the day without being compromised with brain fog, indigestion, and some level of headache from mild to severe.

The euphoria I felt at being able to simply function was intense.  This euphoria escalated when I realized that in discovering the healing properties of a few humble roots that singlehandedly dissolved a huge constellation of otherwise intractable health problems, I had participated in and contributed to Folk Medicine.  Not only had I healed myself, but my determination to reclaim my life had resulted in a rather unusual discovery of safe, affordable, and effective food-based solutions that apparently no-one else had seemingly yet discovered because they were burdened with the luxury of having healthcare and therefore of outsourcing the solution to others supposedly more knowledgeable on the topic than they were.  After a few out-of-pocket investments in seeing various doctors, I had decided it was up to me to heal myself, and had transformed my lack of health care into an intense form of self-care that involved years of research and self-experimentation mixed in with some grace and luck.

I’ve spent the past nine months since the time of this discovery researching the how and why my protocol works as well as it does. In coming to understand the ways that these culinary folk medicines have helped me, I’ve also come to better understand the nature of migraine headaches, and how and why they developed in my life.  So this form of Folk Medicine I’ve accidentally become a practitioner of has involved an inverse sequence of logic in terms of my diagnosis and treatment of myself.  First I found a solution, then the solution clued me in to what the deeper problem was by way of understanding what the medicinal properties of these foods are.

The irony was not lost on me that the solutions to my years long struggle with migraine headaches were not only in my kitchen right under my nose the entire time I was suffering, but that the little old Ukranian lady who lives down the street who doesn’t speak any English could probably have given me a few important clues along the way.

Now, having helped a number of people regain their clear heads after years of debilitating migraines, I find myself incredibly enamored of Folk Medicine but also so excited to articulate what Folk Medicine means to me, why it is so important right now, and what can be done to resuscitate it.

What happened to Folk Medicine?

Folk Medicine is also known as “traditional medicine”,  “indigenous medicine”, “native medicine” and “ethnomedicine.”  It is still the dominant form of medicine practiced by indigenous, place-based, and rural people in third world countries.  This indigenous medicine is declining and under threat as indigenous people are displaced due to habitat or ecosystem destruction and along with it the loss of plant biodiversity that these people rely on for their source of medicine.

Ethnomedicine is the mother of all other systems of medicine . . . The traditional medicinal knowledge is thought to be within everyone’s reach and does not require any study or training to practice it. (Source)

In so-called “first world” countries, the history of folk medicine looks different.  In the United States, for example, a huge diversity of folk medicine traditions converged as immigrants from all over the world came here with their respective cultural indigenous folk medicine traditions and knowledge.  This knowledge has gradually been eroded due to political maneuvering (especially by the Rockefeller Foundation) that succeeded in stamping out alternative and plant-based medicines and molding the new practice of medicine to favor medical institutions, societies and doctors as the exclusive source for medical advice, expertise, patented, chemical-based medications and “evidence-based” medicine.

The Flexner report, written by Pritchett, concluded that only medical schools that committed to using synthetic based medicines and avoided plant based treatments (homeopathic and naturopathic protocols) should be offered large grants that were created by Rockefeller and Carnegie. Some 17 years after the Flexner report had been written and published, almost half of the previously existing medical schools had been forced to close due to an inability to attract students that would pay tuition. In a nutshell, these schools were unable to compete with the medical institutions that were regularly funded by the large foundations set up by Rockefeller and Carnegie. From that point forward, only medical schools philosophically aligned with petrochemical companies would become successful in graduating medical physicians. Presently, the same petrochemical companies have great influence and control over most components associated with modern medicine. (Source)

Along with this trend came a demonization of both alternative medical practitioners and anyone practicing medicine without a license, which would include local community folk healers.

Through expensive and extensive PR campaigns, folk-medicine began to be viewed as dangerous and ineffective quackery. The use of food and herbs for healing made way for the use of pills and synthetic compounds mimicking nature. Part of the reason for this push towards petrochemical drugs was patents. You cannot patent a plant, therefore you cannot make money from it. Since money is the bottom line for the industrialists it is obvious why they invested so much time and energy into creating an entirely different paradigm around health care. (Source)

This new way of practicing medicine shifted the role of the doctor from that of teacher (from the Latin verb docere, to teach) to that of “doer” or performer of specialized diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our new sense of the word “doctor” when it is used as a verb, means roughly to “tinker” or “fool around with” . . . Dr. Moskovitz says in his article “Plain Medicine”,

Especially in a profession dominated by science and technology, it provides our best assurance that health and illness, improvement and worsening, and the success or failure of our work as physicians will be judged according to the patient’s own standards, rather than others imposed arbitrarily or coercively by and for the profession itself.  Our failure to keep these priorities straight is a lot of what I hear from patients about what they think is wrong with the medical system today, and it is difficult not to agree with them. (Source)

Welcoming the Wake Up Call

Currently, we’re reaching an apex in our culture where many people are waking up to the horrifying reality of systemic chemical pollution to our bodies that this form of corporate chemical “medicine” has created, which manifests as a huge variety of chronic inflammatory diseases.  In general, people are more and more interested in and open to exploring alternative healing modalities, and taking responsibility for the self-care and lifestyle choices that are the foundation of wellness.  We are arriving at this wake up call through the very uncomfortable realization of just how incredibly sick we’ve become.

Because the damage to our basic bodily systems by pharmaceutical medicine has been so severe, it has become imperative that Folk Medicine traditions be not only rediscovered and resuscitated, but also upgraded to address this relatively recent damage that our ancestor’s particular form of folk medicine traditions had never encountered.  This is just fine, because even if they had known or did know how to address it, we have basically lost their knowledge at this point anyway.

One way that we know that real medicine (which results in healing) is different from medications (which can create even worse problems through masking of symptoms), is that the body doesn’t know how to selectively heal. So, real medicine will usually have a number of unexpected but desirable “side-effects” that include the dissolution of various other seemingly unrelated (but apparently related) niggling health issues falling away simultaneously.  For me, this meant that in addition to my migraines clearing up, my skin also did, the ringing and ache in my ears subsided, brain fog, PMS, and bloating also disappeared.  Now these are the kinds of “side-effects”, (ie, systemic holistic effects) I can get behind.  Real, plant-based folk medicine heals by way of supporting the body as a whole system.  Migraine medications – which are not medicine in the sense that they suppress rather than cure – do the opposite: they target specific symptoms at the expense of the whole.  Our bodies did not evolve to process pharmaceuticals.

The Courage to Care

There is no clearly defined professional scope of practice for folk medicine (or, therefore, malpractice), because folk medicine is by definition an untrained, unstandardized and unstandardizable, mutable, and informal tradition of healing practices.  Not only are both the practitioners and practices of folk medicine highly diverse depending on the culture and person practicing them, folk medicine itself, as a practice, can’t be controlled or regulated because folk medicine is simply the inevitable process of people taking care of themselves and their communities with the most common solutions available to them.  And we’re starting to do it – we’re starting to learn to care about our quality of life again and realize we are our own most powerful agents in our state of wellbeing.

Caring is not only an emotion, but an activity.  Physical pain and suffering requires physical acts of care to alleviate.  The use of plant foods, spiritual practice, human touch, and sharing of helpful information are all native, indigenous forms of folk care that naturally arise out of the process of being a human being who cares about herself or himself and those he or she lives around.  The results of this care, especially when food (which is generally regarded as safe) is used to care, usually don’t have very disasterous consequences.

(This brings up the converse but important point that one reason that allopathic medical practitioners need the specialized education, standards, and scope of practice that they do, is because the medicines they use can be extremely dangerous if used improperly – and even when used properly.  Serious systemic damage to the body is not impossible, but less likely to happen with the use of time-tested herbs, but even less likely to happen when common foods are used in the practice of culinary folk medicine as compared to herbal folk medicine or other alternative healing modalities.)

The scope of practice of actually caring is infinite.  Caring cannot be embodied by standardized treatments or pills, but it is called forth in the healing process. As Dr. Moskovitz clarifies here, treatment and healing are decidedly different.

1. Healing implies wholeness.
Etymologically, the English verb “to heal” comes from the same root as “whole,” meaning essentially to make whole [again], and refers to a basic attribute of all living systems, which is evident both in wound healing and in spontaneous recovery from illness . . .  Like the metastatic cancer patient who pulls off a regression against every probability or expectation, healing represents a concerted response of the entire organism, cannot be achieved or ascribed to any part in isolation, and implies a deeper level of integration than could be defined or approximated by any mere assemblage.

2. All healing is self-healing.
As a fundamental property of all living systems, healing proceeds continuously throughout life, and tends to complete itself spontaneously, with or without external assistance.   This means that all healing is ultimately self-healing, and the role of physicians and other professional or designated healers must be essentially to assist and enhance the natural healing process that is already under way.  However useful and necessary it may be, merely correcting abnormalities will also have to be judged in relation to that fundamental standard.  Finally, a self-healing orientation transforms the doctor-patient relationship itself, from a hierarchy of knowledge and command into a partnership of consensus and trust.

3. Healing pertains solely to individuals.
Always possible but also inherently problematic and even risky, healing applies only to individuals, to flesh-and-blood creatures in unique, here-and-now situations, rather than to abstract “diseases,” abnormalities, principles, or categories.  In other words, whatever else it may be, it is inescapably an art, and should never and can never be reduced to a mere technique or procedure, however scientific its foundation. (Source)

With Folk Medicine the scope of practice is contained within caring and supportive rather than manipulative and corrective activities. Folk Medicine is passed on by word of mouth as a form of gossip, such as “this worked for me” and “I heard that this works well for that,” or “I heard that this worked well for so-and-so.”  The gossipy or second-hand nature of Folk Medicine, rather than being dangerous and ambiguous, forces any person wanting to implement it to use common sense, discernment, and their own faculties of intelligence, cautious experimentation, and research to integrate the information, probably customizing it along the way according to their own specific knowledge of their body’s sensitivities and vulnerabilities.

Folk Medicine is generally the most empowering, gentle, affordable, accessable, time-tested, common-sense form of health care that exists.  It is born from attention, relationship, and a belief in the resilience of the body if given the right support.  It involves self-responsibility and ownership, and the ability to communicate with one’s body intelligence.  Let’s breathe some life back into Folk Medicine, and be conscious that whenever we take good care of ourselves or someone else, we’re practicing it.

The art of healing comes from Nature, not the physician . . .
Every illness has its own remedy within itself . . .
A man could not be born alive and healthy were there not already a Physician hidden in him . . .
~ Paracelsus

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, health coach, and wellness researcher. She specializes in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions.

The SimplyWell Protocol is available here, or you can book a consultation with Marya.
Learn more about Marya’s healing journey here.
[/author_info] [/author]

Migraine Medications or Folk Medicine?

Migraine Medications or Folk Medicine?

The Necessity of Pharmaceutical Migraine Medications

It’s very clear that pharmaceutical migraine medications allow some people with migraines to function and keep a job while dealing with what is considered to be the sixth most debilitating condition.  The annual burden of migraine costs in the US in 2005 was estimated at $17 billion annually.  Without migraine medications, migraines are a serious handicap which lead to lost productivity, huge impacts on quality of life, lowered energy,  compromised presence with kids and family, and on migraine days – inability to function in any capacity.  Therefore, use of migraine meds is totally understandable, especially given the scarcity of truly effective, safe, natural alternatives – or the fact that they are not being actively marketed to us and so require a lot of digging and research to hear about.

Since most people manage their migraines by way of health insurance and the treatments that the practitioners within their networks provide, they are less likely to discover natural and plant-based solutions unless they have literally become so desperate to find a solution that they spend much of their time researching how others have healed themselves and/or experimenting with ways to heal themselves.

This is what happened to me.  Without health insurance and after a few expensive out-of-pocket expenditures with various alternative health care practitioners, I still had debilitating migraine headaches a few times a week and finally reached the point where I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Two and a half years of self-experimentation, online research, cleansing and dietary and lifestyle changes, mixed with some incredible luck, led me to the discovery of a folk medicine solution to migraine headaches that completely cleared my head and is now helping many others to do so: the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol.  There is now a choice between pharmaceutical migraine medications and folk medicine solutions to chronic migraine headaches.

In comparing pharmaceutical migraine meds with plant-based, drug-free folk medicine solutions to migraine headaches, it’s not my intention to judge or demonize anyone who is taking pharmaceutical migraine medications.  Some people have had daily, weekly, or monthly migraine headaches for literally decades, and must do something to manage them.  These people are acutely aware of the drawbacks of pharmaceutical medications and their attendant side effects, but haven’t found a better solution to manage their migraines besides meds.

I wish I could say that the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol were an easy replacement for migraine meds, but it appears that frequent use of migraine medications makes the protocol take longer to be effective, and in the case of daily use of migraine medications, may render it totally ineffective until those meds have been weaned off.  It’s my belief that this is because anything we ingest orally will affect our microbiome (the gut flora balance in our colon), and that pharmaceutical meds feed pathogenic bacteria (this is just a hypothesis) which keeps the histamine load in the colon high (thus perpetuating migraines).  They also steal vital nutrients needed to create important enzymes that break histamine down.

The good news is that people who only use migraine medications very intermittently, or who wean themselves off these meds, usually respond very well to the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol.  Since I never took migraine meds, I didn’t have to go through that process, but very soon I’ll be highlighting the stories here of some of the courageous people who have managed to successfully wean themselves off meds and how they did it.  So stay tuned!

Pharmaceutical Migraine Medications:

  • require a prescription, are high-tech and patented (not easily accessible)
  • are expensive (require costly health insurance or are subject to random price hikes)
  • have negative so-called “side-effects” (in other words, are making you sick with dizziness, fatigue, rebound headaches, medication-induced headaches, drowsiness)
  • are suppressive, so don’t solve the underlying problem but rather, drive it deeper into the body.
  • are foreign substances to our bodies (evolutionarily novel for our organs to process)
  • steal vital nutrients needed for essential body functioning
  • compromise liver, kidney, and gut health (thereby affecting bile flow, gallbladder health, lymphatic health, and gut flora balance).
  • some opiate-based medications activate mast cells and increase histamine release
  • are habit-forming and prevent some other natural therapies from working
  • we don’t really know how many of them actually work

The Ultimate Migraine Medicine

  • Reduces histamine load
  • Reduces estrogen dominance
  • Balances the gut flora
  • Balances electrolyte levels
  • Balances blood sugar levels
  • Raises blood pressure and thereby improves blood flow to the brain and extremities
  • Improves vitamin/mineral absorption
  • Supports liver, gallbladder, kidney,  pancreas, colon, adrenal and thyroid function
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves energy levels

In other words, a truly holistic medicine will have POSITIVE SYSTEMIC “SIDE-EFFECTS”.  The Simplywell Migraine Protocol is the ultimate migraine medicine.

Medicine by the People, For the People
(ie, Folk Medicine)

  • discovered by laypeople without expertise or specialized training
  • easily accessable, affordable or free
  • self-administered, ie, self-empowering
  • free from unwanted side-effects
  • safe, gentle, and effective
  • easy to comprehend and therefore, relay to others
  • easy for our bodies to process
  • natural, nourishing and supportive
  • low tech and open-source (free from trademarks and patents)

Wellness comes about through a lifestyle of self-care, firsthand experience, self-experimentation, and community gossip about what works.  The Simplywell Migraine Protocol is an expression of Folk Medicine.  Folk Medicine is happening.  It’s not prescriptive – it’s descriptive of what people prefer and are creating, rediscovering, and sharing as laypeople, as the “Folk”.

To learn more about Folk Medicine, read my article “Resuscitating Folk Medicine – for Migraine Headache Relief and Beyond”

To get your copy of the Simplywell Migraine Protocol E-book, go to the homepage and subscribe for a free copy.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. She is actively trying to form a Folk Medicine movement to transform the culture of suppresive and poisonous medications to one of holistic health accomplished through an educated, pro-active, and mutually-supportive community.[/author_info] [/author]

Histamine Intolerance: What it is, and Foods to Avoid (Video)

Histamine Intolerance: What is it?

Histamine Intolerance is an overall state of inflammation characterized by an overly full “bucket” of histamine, which is caused mostly by various pharmaceutical medications and dietary habits. For a more detailed paper on Histamine Intolerance, click here.

Histamine & Tyramine Rich Foods

Antihistamine Foods

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-5-26-25-pm

Antihistamine Recipe Links

Anti-inflammatory Chai with Turmeric, Ginger, & Coconut
Antihistamine Mint, Jicama, and Radish Prebiotic Salad

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. She is actively trying to form a Folk Medicine movement to transform the culture of suppresive and poisonous medications to one of holistic health accomplished through an educated, pro-active, and mutually-supportive community.[/author_info] [/author]